SSSHHHHHH SSSSSHHHH The Scale is in the Drawer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrystel came upstairs the other day and said she weighed 79 pounds. I didn’t pay any attention to this. We only have one scale in the house and that is in the basement bathroom. I just figured that she stepped on it after she was done showering.

She had never mentioned her weight before. She is ten-years-old and not overweight. But then she did it the next day and again the next.

I had it in my mind to inquire about her sudden interest in her weight, but then it slipped my mind. Neither Jody nor I ever talk about our bodies or other people’s bodies. We tell them … if you are hungry, eat; when you are full, stop eating. If you don’t like something, you don’t have to eat it. They have our permission to leave food on their plate.

We have intentionally not made food a focus in our house. Though, Jody and I, do have controls on the amount of soda the children drink by having cold water available in the refrigerator and as a general rule they don’t drink soda at home. We also don’t deny them candy, but they have to ask for it.

Our thought is … if candy isn’t taboo then there isn’t any reason for them to hoard or hide it. It is December 27 and they still have Halloween candy left.

Jody and I haven’t ever been concerned about Antonio and Crystel’s weight—in large part, because they regularly exercise at Tae Kwon Do.

One disagreement that Jody and I have had about the children eating cropped up when the kids were little. Antonio or Crystel said they were hungry, and Jody told them that they could wait until breakfast. I told her later, “You just need to know … if they ask me for something to eat, I don’t care what time it is, I am going to let them eat. I’m not ever going to send a kid to bed hungry.”  We head off any arguments by giving them a warning early enough in the evening … “If you want to eat, eat now.”

One day after school, when Crystel tells me, “I weigh 80 pounds,” I remember to ask her about it.

“Are the fourth graders talking about their weight at school?”

“No. Why?”

I tried again. “Are your classmates weighing themselves?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

Well, why the interest, I think to myself. I don’t want to make too big of deal about it, because then for sure it will become a big deal. That’s how it works with Crystel.

I tried one more time. “Do you tell classmates what your weight is? You know some classmates might be sensitive about their weight.”

“Who? Who is sensitive?”

December 27 - Two Dolphins pushing Crystel with their noses in Mexico.

December 27 – Two Dolphins pushing Crystel with their noses in Mexico.

Hmmm. She is just like her Mama Beth, answering a question with a question. I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.

“I don’t know,” I said. I needed to change the subject. I asked her the first thing that came to my mind, “Are you hungry?”

Jody and I don’t have glamour magazines lying around the house, and Crystel hasn’t started getting any teen magazines. So … maybe she is just curious about how she is changing from day to day.

Doesn’t matter. The scale is going in the drawer, in the cat room, by the litter box.


The coming darkness of winter, grief for my black cat Spook (who died of liver failure last week), and the barbarity of the Taliban shooting a 14-year-old Pakistani girl have been weighing me down. Halloween’s playful excess feels like a wonderful reprieve. So I’m consciously turning away from gloom and back toward the lightness of being silly. In that spirit, here are some highlights from Halloweens present and past:

1. Helping a friend plan her Binder Full of Women costume this year

2. Our neighbor’s yard full of ghouls

3. Remembering when the nuns of my Catholic grade school required us to dress up as saints for the school party—I was St. Helen by day and a Fairy Princess by night




4. A friend’s Halloween wedding reception with guest appearances by Queen Elizabeth I, a live wedding cakes and a three-legged man



5. My youngest son as a New York lawyer (his idea of scary)









6. My oldest as a polar bear during the 1991 Halloween blizzard. At 2 ½ years old, he thought getting candy from three houses was great.

7. And there’s always eating a Reese’s cup (the big kind), a Kit-Kat bar and some peanut M&Ms.

Dressing up and eating candy—what could be better?

Tooth Fairy

Jody and I are the parents that you hate. Your children might come home from school

Crystel, six-years-old. First four teeth pulled.

one day and ask you why the tooth fairy doesn’t give them a treasure hunt like she or he does for Antonio and Crystel (our tooth fairy is a boy or girl, depending on the tooth).

Oh yes, the kids also get the dollar under the pillow. That comes with a letter. And depending on the circumstances, the tooth fairy might use the opportunity to gently remind them to be nice to their sibling or to thank them for a job well done. The fairy often goes on to explain what the tooth is going to be used for. It could be a doorbell (teeth clanging together make just the right sound), a decoration in a flower garden, or it may join other teeth and line the walkway up to the tiny fairy house. The tooth fairy doesn’t stop there with the toothless child. Before flying to the next house the fairy drops a box of candy – like Sour Patch or Mike and Ike’s – under the sibling’s pillow. I know … candy … right?

Crystel often has her teeth pulled out in groups of four by the dentist. The first time it happened, the tooth fairy felt so bad that at the end of Crystel’s treasure hunt, there was an American Girl Doll that looked like her. Well, not quite. The fairy brought home an Indian American Girl doll that the tooth fairy thought matched Crystel’s complexion but the tooth fairy helper said No way, and the fairy trudged back to the Mall of America and got Josephina, the Latin American girl.

Fortunately, getting teeth pulled is like scheduling a Cesarean. You know when it has to come out.

When the kids started asking me if there actually was a tooth fairy, I asked them whether they really wanted to know. By then, they had a relationship with the fairy. They might leave a letter for her or him under the pillow, asking questions and stating that they wanted to come to the fairy’s castle.

Antonio and Crystel hesitated. The stories that accompanied a lost tooth were so magical. Would the magic disappear?

After the age of awakening (at seven-years-old) when Crystel was in the dentist chair getting her next four teeth out, the dentist asked her what she thought the tooth fairy was going to bring her. “A hamster,” Crystel said. The dentist looked at me. I nodded. A hamster.

Yesterday, eating pasta, nine-year-old Antonio said he lost a tooth. There it was in his hand. I looked up at his frothy bloody mouth. My kids are not known for toying with their teeth. Teeth have fallen out while drinking water.

By now the tooth fairy has gotten old and tired and a bit lazy. I asked Antonio if he minded if the fairy just left him money. “I don’t care,” he said, “As long as it’s a twenty.”

Antonio, 7-years-old.

Parents warned us that whatever the first tooth cost the tooth fairy, the ante would always have to be matched. Jody and I never worried about that. I sometimes feel as if I am experimenting with what love will do for a child. I know that giving presents doesn’t equate to love and you risk having spoiled children. So far, I feel as if we have escaped that. Antonio and Crystel are polite, kind, and giving.